Monday, May 4, 2009
Everyone agrees that the "next big thing" on the web is Wolfram Alpha. Instead of searching like Google, Wolfram Alpha will use artificial intelligence to directly answer your question.
There is no doubt that the guy behind Wolfram Alpha, Stephen Wolfram, is a genius. And I have absolutely no evidence that Dr. Wolfram is himself a propagandist.
However, it strikes me that something touted by all the mainstream media as having the potential to replace Google, - and that gives "official" answers to questions - has alot of potential for propaganda.
For example, if I type in "Iraq War" into Wolfram Alpha's engine, will I get back an answer like
A war based on false pretenses which was so expensive that it has bankrupted Americaor will I get back something like
A necessary campaign in fighting terrorism and making the world safe for democracy
If the later, it will just be a new outlet for propaganda.
Especially given that the Department of Homeland Security apparently considers everyone in the "alternative media" to be terrorists (see this, this and this), there is little doubt that government propagandists would at least like to use Wolfram Alpha to "guide" web surfers to the "correct" answer.